• Id_057

    Pablo PIcasso: Nude Woman in a Red Armchair 1932

  • Id_069

    Pablo Picasso: A Child with a Dove 1901

  • Id_067

    Pablo Picasso: Nude on the Beach 1932

  • Id_058

    Pablo Picasso: Guitar, Gas Jet and Bottle 1913

  • Id_066

    Pablo Picasso: Man with a Clarinet 1911-12

  • Id_053

    Pablo Picasso: Still Life (Nature morte) 1914

  • Francis1

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Francis2

    Francis Bacon: Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c. 1944

  • Id_101resized

    Francis Bacon: Crucifixion 1933

  • Id_139

    David Hockney: The Student: Homage to Picasso 1973

  • Id_140

    David Hockney: Artist and Model 1973-74

  • Id_142

    David Hockney: Christopher without his glasses on 1984

  • Id_148

    David Hockney: PAINT TROLLEY, L.A. 1985

Art

What's On: Picasso & Modern British Art

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds,

Picasso, the quintessential maverick, is an artist revered by many, and this latest Tate Britain effort will only further cement his reputation. But this show isn’t mere hero-worship, the emphasis here is on interpretation and an active, rather than passive appreciation. It’s the first of its kind – an exploration of the effect the Spanish master’s work has had on seven British artists, as well as a survey of his varying reception with British collectors, curators, and the public. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s got lots of work and lots of wall text. But most importantly it offers elegant insight into the power of one man’s continually evolving legacy.

Curator Chris Stephens assigned himself a mighty task when he decided to bring together Picasso’s various movements alongside career highlights from British artists Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney.

His chronological approach remains pleasantly un-stiff, with each room boasting its own mythology, rich with anecdotes that carry the show at an entertaining pace. Room One, for instance, tells the tale of a young Duncan Grant who traveled to Paris, met Gertrude Stein and ended up having his mind blown cubist-style by Picasso et. al, before incorporating the artist’s African-style figures and decorative prints into his own work.
 
Continuing from here is another lesser known Picasso exploit – the summer of 1919 he spent in style at the Savoy Hotel during his first trip to London, where he arrived on commission to design costumes and sets for the Russian Ballet’s Three Cornered Hat.

His joyful collection is presented here along with sketches of friends made while fraternising with the best of the British avant-guarde (evenings with Aldous Huxley, Lydia Lopokova, John Maynard Keynes and the critic Clive Bell will live on in dinner-party infamy).

But it wasn’t always high-times for Picasso. Periods of criticism and poorly-received exhibitions plagued the artist throughout much of his early career, and for decades his British collectors numbered very few. Picasso built strong ties with his best British buyers, and the acquisitions of Douglas Cooper and Roland Penrose on show here are of staggering quality – a wonderful mix of well known and never-before-seen gems like a little 3-D collage that recreates Picasso’s Parisian cafe lunch, complete with knife, fork, and plate of saucisson.

The Guardian’s Richard Shone wrote this weekend that in attempting to capture Picasso’s uniquely British legacy, such a show could perhaps instead serve “to denigrate most of Picasso’s British contemporaries, when seen alongside his towering achievements.” It’s a fair point, but fortunately it’s a concern the show manages to sidestep. These seven Brits come across not as slavish followers but rather a group who communally aknolwedge Picasso’s work as a turning point in their own careers.

Henry Moore’s voluptuous wood sculptures are glorious extensions of Picasso’s abstracted female forms, while Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (he abandoned an interior design career upon seeing the Dinard paintings) sits proudly on the wall, a triumph in its own alarming right.

David Hockney famously claims to have seen Picasso’s 1960 Tate blockbuster eight times and, when given the chance in 1980 to create the costumes for the ballet Parade, chose instead to revive Picasso’s own 1919 designs. And in honour of what he considered PIcasso’s most admirable quality, Hockney titled his seminal RCA Young Contemporaries exhibition “Demonstrations of Versatility.”

And it’s this sentiment which perhaps sums up the show’s ethos most succinctley. This is a celebration of Picasso’s variations, his diversity as a master of many media and the broad scope of his influence. He’s the star of the show, the vanguard of seven mignons, and it’s easy to see why we would struggle to find anyone to esteem more enthusiastically.

Through Picasso, generations of painters have learned the expressive power of distortion and the joys of colour. To see his work hung low on the gallery wall is to marvel at it all, from the smallest sketch to the largest canvas still thick with unspread paint.

Picasso & Modern British Art runs from 15 February to 15 July 2012 at Tate Britain.
Portrait11

Posted by Charlotte Simmonds

Californian Charlotte joined us as an editorial intern after studying at New York university and London Metropolitan University. She wrote for the site between January and March 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Anniedescarteaux-collage-7home-int

    Annie Descôteaux’s work is confident, engaging and straight-forwardly slapstick. The Montreal-based artist works with installation, drawing and collage and has seen her work exhibited and discussed at conferences on colour theory. In equally impressive outings, it’s also appeared in Bloomberg and Pica magazines, among other publications. Annie’s collage work is well-balanced with clean lines, sharp colours and discreet humour; each piece littered with raw steak, fried eggs and shuttlecocks.

  2. Oliviervrancken-untitled-1-inthome

    Olivier Vrancken is a graphic designer and artist based in Holland. Painting and drawing his way through commissions and personal work, he is inspired by everything from primitive art to the great lyricists that are Black Sabbath. Olivier has exhibited all over Europe, his Cubist aesthetic and visual references laden with nods to cut-outs, still life, architecture and the human form. There’s a great colour palette to his work and some nice titles like Bad Hair Day and Wanderlust. Olivier’s work reminds me of the prints that appeared all over the T-shirts of the 1980s, in a good way.

  3. Menutnutnut-drawing-4-int

    Me nut nut nut was one of Jason Murphy’s daughter’s first utterances, and is now the name for his drawings of awkward stories of fear and incompetence. Inspired by the physical comedy of The Young Ones and The Ren & Stimpy Show, Jason’s drawings rely on comic intuition and references to real-life moments, like dropping a potato on his cat.

  4. Seamus_murhpy_pj-harvey_-recording-in-progress_-2015.-an-artangel-commission.-_1_int

    While we wait to take our turn to become a sort of strangely sanctioned voyeur as PJ Harvey records her ninth album, thinking about what’s ahead feels peculiar. Essentially, we’re going to see PJ (Polly Jean) Harvey, her band, producers Flood and John Parish, a photographer and two engineers making an album in a Something & Son-designed box, formed of glass that allows visitors to see in, while the musicians can’t see out.

  5. Atelierbingo-list-int

    Up to the point when I opened Atelier Bingo’s new zine Wogoo Zoogi I’d never wondered what two aliens in heated conversation might look like. Having had a read I can now confirm that the answer is “they are speaking, singing very strangely, and they have a hair on their tongues." The newest bout of work from French illustration and surface design duo Adèle Favreau and Maxime Prou is a wonderful celebration of playful, dynamic, abstract art; blending shapes, colours and patterns in a glorious puddle of chaos thinly disguised as alien chat. In fact, it’s everything we’ve been led to expect from the pair, who we’ve dolloped praise on in the past.

  6. Faigahmed-carpets-list-2-int

    Faig Ahmed is an Azerbaijani artist doing remarkable things with carpets. He takes traditional Azerbaijani rugs – enormous, beautiful intricate creations – un-weaves them, and reconstructs them to create new patterns and shapes, subverting traditional usage of rugs as domestic objects to be walked all over, and rejuvenating them with optical illusions and techniques reminiscent of contemporary internet art. 

  7. Slavs_tatars-loveletters-home-int

    The work of Slavs & Tatars is awash with unlikely cultural references, balloons, archives and carpets. Identifying “the area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China” as the focus of their work, their projects are generous, engaging and genre-crossing. Starting as a reading group before shifting into making their own work, Slavs & Tatars have recently been working on a continuation of their Long Legged Linguistics project, a multi-faceted study of language as a source of emancipation. The somewhat secretive collective were kind enough to tell us more about this and their “bazaar” approach to making work.

  8. Davidbatchelor-october-13-int

    If you go down to the Whitechapel Gallery anytime between now and early April you’ll be sure to come across a huge breadth of work chronicling the adventures of the black square, from 1915 all the way up to the present day. It’s fairly monochromatic, as you might expect. Upstairs, however, things get drastically more colourful – especially once you come to David Batchelor’s specially “disrupted” issue of October, one of the most respected art journals out there, first published in 1976 and edited by esteemed writers Michel Foucault, Richard Foreman and Noël Burch.

  9. Alexdacorte-easternsport-1-int

    Perennial student artist Alex Da Corte has qualifications, residencies and awards coming up to his eyeballs having studied Film, Animation and Fine Arts at New York’s School of Visual Arts, Printmaking and Fine Arts at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia and then a cheeky MFA in Sculpture at Yale. Busy guy!

  10. Duane_hanson_-_karma3

    Karma Books have just published a catalogue of Duane Hanson’s post-humous exhibition Flea Market Lady. Shown at New York’s Gagosian Gallery, Duane’s flea market ladies are taken from real-life characters and cast in bronze. An incredible feat of observation and skill, his work captures the character of his models and creates a very real atmosphere of flea-ing. Karma have kindly let us publish an extract from the imaginary conversation Maurizio Cattelan has with the artist in the foreword to the book:

  11. Hdl5_copy

    Hubert de Lartigue paints photo-realistic portraits that “serve the beauty” of his models, and his muse. He considers “emotion and soul” the most important part of a painting and spoke to us about his working process, inspiration and the impact of his muse, Octavie.

  12. Main_10.00.34

    If I won the lottery I’d open a gallery, and when I opened my gallery I’d totally rip off everything that David Kordansky Gallery does. From the big stuff like the very well-curated, cool list of artists they represent, to the impeccable printed matter they produce, to the matter of their easily navigable and well designed website – these guys are celebrating people’s work in the best way possible.

  13. List

    For all its simplicity – the limited use of colour, the seemingly straightforward shapes – there’s something about the work of Jens Wolf that’s undeniably intriguing and complex. Bringing to mind the likes of Josef Albers and Frank Stella, his abstract pieces set off their precise geometry with deliberate imperfections that add a human element to its formality. With his first London show opening in March, we had a chat with him about the creative process, the evolution of his work and why his London is forever foggy.